Sensory Overload, my hidden foe (hearing)…

As I have mentioned before, I am going through a process of discovering newer and newer details about my own condition(s), and as a result, I am learning how to better cope with life’s sometimes fair, but oftentimes unfair demands.

In this process, I notice similarities between what I experience and what others experience, therefore if I find anything worth considering for myself, I think it might be useful to share some of these thoughts, of course never as a substitute for professional help.

For many, many years, or better decades, a very distressing incident kept repeating itself, especially in crowded places like shopping centres and supermarkets, with all that cacophony of loud music (why’s that needed in the first place?), trollies, voices of people chaotically racing always too close to me, children’s tantrums, flood of artificial light and the subsonic vibration of industrial fridges. After a short while, I always noticed first some sort of mind-foggy confusion, when the shopping list became my only reality anchor, which rather shortly started to morph into a very uncomfortable anxiety, followed by an intense feeling of distress. Unfortunately, my family had to witness nearly every time, outbursts of anger for absolutely trivial “reasons”, which I -most of the time- blamed on my oftentimes crippling chronic lower-back condition. But, as I noticed sometimes, the lack of pain in my back, didn’t really change much. And because of the intensity of my distress, and the draining effort of coping without causing what from outside looked sometimes like a petty family argument, I never noticed WHY on very rare occasions, even with some back pains present, I could remain socially reasonable (it turns out it was always when we went shopping either very early, or very late, when the shops were nearly empty).

Since realising that I am living on the Autistic Spectrum, displaying nearly all the symptoms of Asperger’s, I started to consciously experiment strategies learned from specialized literature, but also from other Aspies.

One of these strategies was/is protection from Sensory Overload, especially its Audio aspect, my hidden foe.

A few good weeks ago, I started to look around for some good quality earplugs and ear defenders, and started using them (the pictures display my own protective devices).

And the miracle just happened!

It took some time with my earplugs, to learn the tricks of inserting them and taking them out, or adjusting the ear defenders to the -considerable- size of my head, but the miracle happened indeed: I can go shopping without the fear of another meltdown, without chasing my family out of the shop as soon as possible just to escape the audio nightmare, and without the soul scarring guilt of having done it, “again”. And interesting enough, the earplugs allow me to still hear voices and most of sounds, but without that horrendously painful “vibration” which my brain just can’t take…

One more thing I noticed, and that’s about mornings. I usually get up quite early, giving myself time to go through my precise little routines and rituals. I noticed though, that if any family member joined around, minding their own routines, it made me feel anxious and distressed. First I thought that I might be their interference with my established routes of routine, but for the past few days, I noticed that it may be something else. For some reason, I plugged my ears, and I noticed that the stress started to decrease. I took them out, and had a bit of conversation over the coffee with my wife, just to realize that some of the sounds of her lovely voice, acted like sledgehammers to my brain. I plugged my ears back, and the hammering stopped, even as we continued chatting. And I’m sure this wasn’t the first time in over twenty years of marriage, but it was the first “conscious” occurrence.

What I realized is that probably, early in the day, when the ears adapt from the quietness of rest to the sounds of a new day, there could be a period of transition when they are overly sensitive, especially in the case of individuals susceptible to Sensory Overload.

So, I don’t know how others might feel about it, but earplugs first thing in the morning seem to be working fine for me J

 

More to come about Sight, Touch, Smell and Taste…

16 thoughts on “Sensory Overload, my hidden foe (hearing)…

  1. I had to do some online training yesterday at the local internet/tourist centre, what I noticed was that I could concentrate perfectly in the silence, but when people started talking I felt the need to put my hands over my ears and I actually did, I could not concentrate at all on what I was doing. And then I thought back to exams, any noise (clearing of the throat for example) would derail my train of thought. And how irritated I get shopping – all the noise! And my 4 year old son who sometimes decides to scream and screech and I snap at him because I can’t stand the high pitched noise. How often I say “did you hear that?” to people. How I can’t stand ticking clocks and constant whirring noises in things such as the DVD player and don’t get me started on people who try to talk to me during movies or something I’m trying to listen to 😬 I think I may have to invest in something like you have bought, I didn’t realise there was such a thing! I didn’t realise I actually had such an issue with noise to be honest! Crazy how we learn about ourselves 🙉😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi A, well, again, ditto, ditto, ditto to your reply!
    Raising children was particularly difficult for me/us, as we didn’t know until recently about my condition, which means we lived through a constant chaos, with me being oftentimes harder to deal with than all our children.
    Unfortunately, I was the fifth child, but didn’t really grow up 🙂 and now that I know I’m kinda “special” I’m not sure I want to 😉
    And the sound of hard-drives, the talking while watching movies, OMG…
    But as I said, now even at work (and I’m really fortunate to work most of the time alone when in my office), I put on my ear defenders and hallelujah 😉
    Look around, I found most of my stuff on Amazon.
    And thank you so much for sharing your experiences, it helps a lot 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I use valerian pills for the night, but I’m also using music to divert my attention. Unfortunately I have pulsating tinnitus, very loud, but I’ve learned to ignore it… I wish I could use valerian at work, but the nature of my work is such that I can’t use any “softeners”. I keep my large ear-defenders close in case I need them, and a pair of ear-plugs in each set of clothes, each bag I use…

      Liked by 2 people

        1. And that’s exactly why it helps during night times. I have musculo-skeletal issues, and my sleep is disturbed by pain and discomfort. During daytime it does also enhance some of the tranquilising effects of painkillers. So I have to be careful. Thank you Blue Fox, that’s what Volpinablu means, am I right?
          🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, valerian pills get muscles relaxed and i don’t take it before driving, but when someone or something hurt me I often have a great reaction of anger and I have to be calm, to stay far from the reality in a way it can hurt me and I can’t hurt myself…
            My nick means little blue fox, it is my wild avatar, my spiritual guide, I love foxes… I had a dear friend asperger and I loved him as a son (since I don’t have sons) and I used to call him in this way but he rejected me and so now I became VolpinaBlu.

            Like

            1. Yes you are right, sometimes I used them to alleviate the physical discomfort following severe anxiety attacks.
              How interesting, I don’t know if you are familiar with Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”, but there, humans from that universe/dimension have their souls outside their bodies in the form of animals walking with them, called “daemons”, of course not the religious sort of demons…
              I am very fond of his novels, and spent lots of quality time reading them. There’re a whole culture about these books. Enough said, when I was identifying my own, it turned out to be a silver/blue fox, Rhea 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

                1. You are most welcome. I’ll post in the future a beautiful picture of a silver fox I’ve been using for a long time as an avatar. 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried earplugs for the night, but my pulsating tinnitus becomes even louder because of surrounding silence, also my ears start hurting because I sleep on sides nearly all the time.
      Sometimes in order to get a better sleep, I have to take other pills. I can absolutely sympathise with you Antonella. Thank you so much for your comments, I really appreciate them.
      Take care 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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